Imperial Irrigation District -- the agricultural entity that controls 70 percent of California's water from the Colorado River -- has a "supply-demand imbalance" (SDI), i.e., they are using more water than they have [prior post].
I was going to try to make a joke about why the SDI is not IID's fault, but I can't. SDI is the natural result of charging too little for water: IID farmers pay about $17/AF for water that costs 10-50 times more in other parts of the State.
Anyway, farmers were relieved to hear that they would get 5.3AF/acre (that's 430,000 acres covered five feet deep, folks*). But that's all they are going to get, right? Not quite:
One of the issues was whether farmers would have access to water if they use all of their allotment. The changes would eliminate what was called a “supply of last resort” that farmers could get water from if they miscalculated their need.If they need the water. Classic.
Board President John Pierre Menvielle said the IID was not going to cut farmers off, if they need water.
Bottom Line: IID continues to ignore basic economics. Its water is too cheap, its rationing is inefficient (giving the same to everyone instead of using auctions, trades, etc.), and its penalties for waste are non-existent. The case for seizing IID's water (lack of "beneficial use") grows stronger.
* 5.3AF/acre * 430,000 irrigated acres (2005) does NOT equal IID's 3.1MAF entitlement, but those numbers -- from different sources -- give you an idea of scale.